Evans & Levinson (E&L) focus on differences between languages at a superficial level, rather than examining common processes. Their emphasis on trivial details conceals uniform design features and universally shared strategies. Lexical category distinctions between nouns and verbs are probably universal. Non-local dependencies are a general property of languages, not merely non-configurational languages. Even the latter class exhibits constituency.
Holophrastic protolanguage.Maggie Tallerman - 2008 - Interaction Studies. Social Behaviour and Communication in Biological and Artificial Systemsinteraction Studies / Social Behaviour and Communication in Biological and Artificial Systemsinteraction Studies 9 (1):84-99.details
This paper challenges recent assumptions that holophrastic utterances could be planned, processed, stored and retrieved from storage, focussing on three specific issues: Problems in conceptual planning of multi-proposition utterances of the type proposed by Arbib, Mithen ; The question of whether holophrastic protolanguage could have been processed by a special ‘holistic’ mode, the precursor to a projected ‘idiom mode’ in modern language; The implications for learning a holophrastic proto-lexicon in light of lexical constraints on word learning. Modern speakers only plan (...) utterances in clause-sized units, and it is improbable that protolanguage speakers had more complex abilities. Moreover, the production and comprehension of idioms sheds no light on a putative ‘holistic’ mode of language processing, since idioms are not processed in this way. Finally, innate constraints on learning lexical items preclude the types of word meanings proposed by proponents of holophrastic protolanguage. (shrink)
Christiansen & Chater (C&C) suggest that language is itself an evolutionary system, and that natural languages to be easy to learn and process. The tight economy of the world's case-marking systems lends support to this hypothesis. Only two major case systems occur, cross-linguistically, and noun phrases are seldom overtly case-marked wherever zero-marking would be functionally practical.